Many years ago, when a family friend was losing her battle with cancer, she was released from the hospital to spend her last days at home with her family. When her husband called to ask if Kerry and I would come by and lead her in worship, we purposed in our hearts to be strong, but when we saw her fragile, emaciated frame, we wept. She never opened her eyes that day, but as Kerry played the guitar and we sang, “Let the weak say, ‘I am strong,‘” the peace of God began to settle upon our precious friend. It was as if every muscle that had been clenched in pain found sweet release in the presence of the God of All Comfort.
I have often recalled that afternoon, wondering if her experience in worship was like that of a troubled Saul when David played before him. Scripture records in 1 Samuel 16:23 that when David took his “harp and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well.”¹ In the original Hebrew language, the word “hand” is translated as “portion” or “share,” as well as “consecrate.”² Thus, as David worshiped the Lord—bringing his consecrated share before the Father—King Saul would be “refreshed,” or ravach, meaning “to breathe easily in relief.” So it was with my dear friend. And so it is with me.
Eleven years ago when our son was diagnosed with a degenerative connective tissue disorder that leaves many blind, deaf, and with limited mobility, I wept before the Lord because I knew that—apart from a miracle—his life would not be easy. It was the presence of God found in worship—specifically, a song written by Matt Redman—that week after week would bring a welcomed refreshing to my soul. Sixteen surgeries later, our son is now a college senior majoring in both physics and mathematics, and though he is often met with new challenges, it is the same “David” that continues to sing over this mother’s heart. From “Blessed Be Your Name” to “10,000 Reasons,” worship is that consecrated moment when the truth of God’s Word is declared and that which offers resistance to freedom is bested by the weighted glory of the Lord.
Horatio Spafford knew that weighted glory. In the unfathomable sorrow of losing his four young daughters to a tragic accident at sea, he penned this declaration of faith:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“Well.” A word that in the Hebrew translates “goodly, joyful, and right.” It was the condition of soul that worship wrought in both a troubled king and a grieving father who found his strength in the sustaining grace of God. Over one hundred years later, strongholds are still broken when Spafford’s costly confession is sung.
Worship leaders, choir directors, musicians, singers, and songwriters, we have been entrusted with a sacred share. A consecrated portion. I pray that as we join with the Body of Christ in the worship of our Lord that not only would He be glorified, but that His people would experience a sweet refreshing in His presence, and—regardless of the sorrow—declare that with our souls, it is well.
¹The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
²Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
Kenna Turner West is a Dove Award-winning songwriter, blah-blah-blah…